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The myth of "political memoir": a feminist critique Mason, Mason, Hilary Catherine Louise Hilary Catherine Louise 1994-12-31

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THE MYTH OF “POLITICAL MEMOIR:” A FEMINIST CRITIQUE  by  HILARY CATHERINE LOUISE MASON B.A.,  Carleton University,  1990  A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of History)  We accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard  THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September 1994  ©  Hilary Catherine Louise Mason  In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department  or  by  his  or  her  representatives.  it  is  understood  that  copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission.  Department  of  The University of British C umbia Vancouver, Canada Da  DE.6 (2/88)  2  ii Abstract  This  relationship  the  examines  thesis  power  between  and  knowledge in the maintenance of a separate category of historical “political  labelled  literature  definition of  feminist  a  adopts  “political” and thereby challenges the fundamental  between  dichotomy  It  memoir.”  personal  categorization depends.  and  political  upon  which  such  a  Feminist literary analysis is used to read  the personal narratives of two women whose experiences would not normally qualify as “political,” and two men whose experiences as diplomats  place  memoir” writing.  them firmly within  tradition  the  of  “political  The goal of such an analysis is to demonstrate  both the myriad ways in which personal experience is political and the political implications of all personal writings. the  thesis  reaffirms  “deconstructs” the  need  for  the a  concept  of  fundamental  political  In this way, memoir  restructuring  of  categories into which historical analysis has been divided.  and the  iii TABLE OF CONTENTS  Abstract  ii  Table of Contents  iii  Acknowledgements  iv  Chapter One  Knowledge,  Chapter Two  Negotiating Identity in Twentieth-Century France 22  Chapter Three Chapter Four  Power and Political Memoir  Speaking With a Privileged Voice Conclusions  1  53 66  Bibliography  73  Addendum  76  iv Acknowledgements I would  like  to  thank Dr.  George  Egerton  for his  constant  encouragement of me to develop a feminist critique of the Political Memoirs project.  Thanks are also due to Dr. Dianne Newell for her  encouragement and for facilitating my completion of this work.  I  am very grateful to Dr. Joy Dixon for her willingness to step into a project in progress and for guiding my initial encounters with academic feminist theory.  I especially appreciate that no matter  how much red ink she spilled on my copies,  she saved enough to add  positive comments and useful suggestions. A tremendous debt of gratitude is owed to the women of Vancouver Rape Relief and Women’s Shelter for teaching me that “the personal  is political,”  and in turn to Tamara Gorin and Belinda  Shelton for working with me to live that politic.  Over years of  discussion, these women have contributed significantly to my ideas about politics and academics. all  I  had  academic,  learned  a  political  activist  in  my  work  as  an  they gave me the courage to tackle this project.  Finally, history  as  By demanding that I work to include  I must thank the women graduate students of the UBC  department  and  support and good humour.  the women  in  the  main  office  for  their  1 Knowledge, The  term  Chapter One: Power and Political Memoir  “political  memoir”  has  been  since  used  the  mid-  nineteenth century to classify the personal writings of political leaders,  military figures,  politicians,  diplomats and high level  governmental bureaucrats or their close observers on the public events  in  political recently  which  they  memoir  as  been  edited  Columbia. done  of  knowledge,  category  George  by  in the past  personally  by  Political  However,  politics  a  reaffirmed  colloquium papers, Memory,  were  in 1994,  and  of  Essays  of  the  on  place  literature  historical  publication  Memoir:  Egerton  decade by  gender  the  of  The  engaged.  has  series  of  Politics  of  a  the  of  University  of  British  in the light of the extensive work feminists  the  and postmodernists on  relationships  power  between  the and  the time has perhaps come to reexamine the underlying  assumptions in the definition of this genre: to consider political memoir as a myth which both results from, maintenance of,  and contributes to the  a particular sociopolitical order.  In order to consider “political memoir” in this sense, we need to  examine  concepts  the  ways  in which unstated  assumptions  shape the work we do as historians.  in working  The idea that  the  production of knowledge in our society is about who holds power, that  knowledge  functions  to  support  power-interests  and  that  dominant ideas are often internalized and subsequently self-imposed (normalizing) is by now familiar in academic circles.  According to  Susan Bordo, these ideas originated in the social movements of the  2 l960s,  including feminism.’  In academia,  however,  they are most  commonly associated with such writers as Richard Rorty in North America and Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault in Europe. 2 Each  these  of  theoretical  tools Their  society.  for  men  has  undoubtably  the  critique  writings,  however,  of  developed  knowledge  have  been  important  and  the  power  in  subject  of  numerous criticisms for their androcentric bias and feminists need to consider seriously how we position feminist theory and movement 3 in  relation  statements creation  to of  as  a a  these  “schools”  of  postmodern position dangerous  oppression and exclusion,  power  The  4 thought. tend  move,  to  most  view all  inevitably  extreme  knowledge  resulting  and all attempts at social criticism in  terms of categories such as  “women,”  “blacks,  “  or a particular  Bordo, Susan Postmodernism “Feminism, and Gender Scepticism” in Linda J. Nicholson ed., Feminism/Postmodernism (New York: Routledge, Chapman and Hall, Inc., 1990), 137 and “Feminism, Foucault and the politics of the body” in Caroline Ramazanoglu ed., Uo Against Foucault: Explorations of Some Tensions between Foucault and Feminism (London: Routledge, 1993), 182. 2  Bordo,  in  138.  Feminist theorist bell hooks argues that the expression “feminist movement” should not be preceded by a definite article since no single unified movement exists. bell hooks in Mary Childers and bell hooks, “A Conversation about Race and Class” in Marianne Hirsh and Evelyn Fox Keller eds., Conflicts in Feminism (New York: Routledge, Chapman and Hall, Inc.,l990), 79. The expression “school” here is used with some reservation in as much as the intention of these writers was not to create a new theoretical system produce of but critiques such to disciplining parameters on thought. Nevertheless, for all its heterogeneity and looseness, postmodernism, has taken on the status of a theoretical position and people continue to take stands for, against or in compromise with it.  3 “class”  harmful,  as  totalizing  fallacies  which  deny  the  heterogenous aspects of the individuals these categories claim to represent. In the United States, a similar (but different) criticism was delivered by women of colours who demonstrated the ways in which feminist movement had focused on the experiences of white, middleclass  women  in  theory-building  5 colours.  These women were,  feminists  were  rectified  by  denying  the  stories  Instead,  saying.  class, sexuality,  the  the  to  exclusion  of  women  of  indeed, not represented by what white  Such  an  error,  possibility  and experiences  of of  however,  is  speaking  about  not  all women across  best  women. race,  (dis)ability, language, culture and time need to  be gathered and considered so that real cornmonalities can be spoken of  and differences  6 cause.  can remain a  source of  To deny the possibility of  strength in a common  speaking of  structures is not only altogether too easy,  societal macro-  it is also profoundly  disempowering to feminist movement. Naturally, feminists have different opinions and judgements of postmodernism.  Various negotiations of position,  some with the  explicit project of creating a postmodern feminism, have resulted in the exploration of many aspects of postmodern theory with the The term “colour” is pluralized in order to reflect the diversity of peoples who face race oppression and the multitudinous ways in which this plays out according to skin colour, while acknowledging the unity of race oppression. I am grateful to Elvenia Gray, feminist transition-house worker, for this criticism. 6  Radical feminism holds that no single oppression can on its own ever be ended; all oppression must end: hence the aspiration to a common cause. See also Susan Bordo, 139.  4 intention of using the theory for the empowerment of In the field of history, the  adoption  of  (some) women.  the most powerful argument in favour of  poststructural  theory was  made  by Joan Wallach  Scott in her book Gender and the Politics of History, published in 1988.  Scott’s  writes  with  argument  conviction  is  both  eloquent  and persuasiveness  opened by poststructural analysis.  in which  “politics  constructs  of  passionate. the  She  possibilities  By analyzing the discourses of  gender in a specific place and period, ways  and  historians can explore the  gender and gender constructs  politics.” Feminist history then becomes not the recounting of great deeds performed by women but the exposure of the often silent and hidden operations of gender that are nonetheless present and defining forces in the organization of most societies. 7 With the aid of poststructural theory,  Scott provides biting  criticisms of the currently common definition of and  of  history  endorsing other  and  essays,  as  a  “particular  announcing Scott  “the political”  kind  of  cultural  constructions  of  gender.B  provides  an  interesting  institution Among  rereading  of  her E.P  Thompson’s seminal work The Making of the English Working Class. In “Women in The Making of the English Working Class,” Scott looks at the ways in which the discourse of gender with which Thompson worked place  -  in  identified as the assumptions about women, society  -  shaped  ideas  about  class  and  Joan Wallach Scott, Gender and the Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1988), 27. 8  Scott,  Gender and the Politics of History,  their role and made  of  women’s  History  26 and 9.  -  -  =  H,C)  IOH-  Id,  f—’Cl) 1  HQ  Ici  IQH-  ••  L  :i  rt  HH,  -  ‘-  CDc-r Li0  H-  -  <ct  Ci)  H-  LOJ  F-S  CD CD  Cl)  (i-h  CD  HH 0 C)C) H-O  CDN  F—SM  °Ct  n  HW  H  “  O 5hCD  I-t  I  tJ:j  I.,.iQ  -  1cr  ‘CD biCD  ICi)  IH= IC1)  Li  -  H-  Oj P1 rt  k<  0  CD  Li  0:  H-ti)  H  QP) H,  Cl)  C)  F—Cl) H-Cl) ctH H-CD  OCD  CDCD  ?C-t•  -  —I-’L  LQCD  LO  I-LCD  —0  -I  =  Cl)  Cl)  1  H  0  H HCl)  I OLj  CD  rt  M  0  0-  ‘1  H H  H  CD 0  3 Cl)  H C)i  P1  H  -  Cl)  Cl) H  Cl)  H-  0  H 1<  0  Ft  Ft  P1  l’<  p1  (l)  H-  Cl)  Cl) H.  ‘<  P1  P1  C) Ft  çr  Cl)  p1  P1  CD  .  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Women  are  not  ultimately  It demonstrates  portrayed  as  the  powerless objects of discourse.  While Canning’s work explicitly acknowledges a debt to works such  as  Scott’s,  it  is  questionable  whether  her  work  accepted among academic circles as postmodern or if accused  of  trying  structural theory. point.  avoid  to  the  radical  of  post-  It can, however, be argued that this is a moot  Feminist theory and analysis need not be held accountable  for instance,  opposed  interpretations  feminists  negotiate  Canning,  Nancy Fraser,  .  has pointed out the contradictory aspects of both  Derridean theories and Foucauldian writings  ‘  be  she will be  implications  to the writings of men (even postmodern theorists)  12  will  which  with  and the various and  they make possible.’ 3  these  contradictions  Why  when  should  feminist  374-374.  Nancy Fraser, “Michel Foucault: a “Young Conservative?” and “The French Derrideans” in Unruly Practices: Power, Discourse and Gender in Contemporary Social Theory (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1989), 35-54, and 69-92.  7  politics provides an evaluative principle arguably more liberating? If we consider instead how a theory or practice can be empowering to feminist movement, particularly to those with the least power, then questions of theory are held accountable to those who feminist theory by definition exists  to serve.  Susan Bordo’s warning is  particularly apt: We need to consider the degree to which this [debate about method] serves, not the empowerment of diverse cultural voices and styles, but the academic hegemony (particularly in philosophy and literary studies) of detached, metatheoretical discourse 14 Doris Sommer identifies this privilege in a particularly humbling in  way  her  article  “‘Not  Just  Personal  a  Story’:  Women’s  Testimonios and the Plural Self:”  To doubt referentiality in testimonials would be an irresponsible luxury, given the urgency of the call to action. If the narrator has been raped countless times by Somoza’s National Guardsmen or if she has followed the slow stages of her mother’s torture at the hand of the Guatemalan army or had the baby in her womb literally kicked out of her during torture in a Bolivian prison, just to give a few examples, she might well wonder at the academic pause we take in considering how delayed or artificial her reality is.’ 5 ...  ...  In  the  study  highlight  of personal  rather  than  narrative,  undermine  then,  or mask  theory must the politics  serve  to  revealed.  Personal experience is both political and real. In  a  Socialist  ‘  chapter  entitled  “Struggle  Over  Feminist  Critical  Theory of  Late Capitalist  Bordo,  Needs:  Outline  of  Political  142.  Doris Sommer “‘Not Just a Personal Story’ : Women’s and the Plural Self” in Bella Brodzki and Celeste Schenck eds., Life/Lines: Theorizincj Women’s Autobiography (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1988), 120. Testimonios  a  8 Culture”  in her book Unruly Practices:  in Contemporary Social  Power Discourse and Gender  Nancy Fraser develops  Theory,  a powerful  critique of the discourses of social needs which takes into account the imbalance of power among the various contenders and values both individual initiative and the power of social movements to (re)act and create.’ 6  Although informed by careful critical consideration  of the works of numerous postmodern theorists, Fraser’s work is in no sense accountable to those theories. to  specific  a  feminist  evaluated as a strategy.  politic  Instead it is accountable theory  where  is  adopted  and  Approaches such as Fraser’s and Canning’s  suggest a methodology useful for an analysis of personal writings which can value these texts as personal negotiations of multiple competing  public  discourses  which  shape  personal  identity  and  political thought. In  fact,  knowledge production and control  has  been a  long  standing subject of feminist critical thought and the analysis of discourse feminist terms.  is  not  practice  necessarily of  different  examining who  is  from  the  saying what  long and  standing in what  During the present wave of feminism, as women began openly  to discuss the conditions of their lives in consciousness-raising groups, much of what had been said to be true by the church,  the  educational system, the medical system, the state, and academia (to name  only  a  movement has  few  examples)  was  called  into  question.  Women’s  challenged the interests which lurk behind various  constructions of knowledge and women have acted to produce new and 16  Fraser,  161-187.  co  I  HU) HU)  II  0  H  0  C-I-  U)  H-  OiC-I 1DC-I-  0  U)  C) oJ  ci) 0  H  -.  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H  ci  CD  ci)  Mi  -  0  C-I-  HU)  0 Mi  H  CD  C-I-  0  CT)  F-  -  U) ci)  CD  <  I-  CD  ci) H  0 C)  U)  ci  CD  CD ci)  <  CD  I—i  CD CD  ci)  U)  h  H 0  Mi  H  C)  H  CD I  ‘  1.<  U)  Cl  i-  ci  H-  -  CD 0  d  ci  ci)  C-I  U) CD  U)  CD  0  U)  C)  U)  C) H ci)  H-  -’ I  CD  <  H-  ci  CD  H  )  M  (Q  H-  0  <  CD  D  -3  Mi  0  CD  C-I  H  ci CD CD  C-I-  CD  CD  C-I  CD  CD  ci)  C-I  CD C)  Li-  C-I H-  CD  CD  ci)  -  C-I-  C-I-  0  C 0 ci)  U)  ci)  C-I  0  CD  ci)  U)  CD  (p  CD  H  H  ci)  C)  U)  CD  (p  ci)  C)  C)  Cl)  CD  CD  ci  H  0  Mi  0  U)  ci  H  C-I  CD  CD  HMi Mi  ci  D  10 was reflective solely of the experience of their own race, and gender,  but  also claimed the right  speak  to  for all  class and to  judge the histories of others according to standards which had been created to guide the pursuit  of  a unified historical  narrative.  When the membership of academia began to include (some) others, the resulting proliferation of perspectives on the past, many of which were  fundamentally  unifying narrative The  incompatible,  dismayed  those  in  search of  a  history of the nation (or even the world).  -  reservation of the label  for a minority of  “political”  the population masks a project similar to that of the pursuit of a unifying  metanarrative  it  because  presumes  that  the  important  politics of an age were the preserve of an elite minority.  In the  expression “political memoir,” the term “political” is not intended to describe the nature of a memoir as an actual object; the  criteria  for  labelling  a  memoir  “political”  whether or not the memoir is political (For some historians, constitutes  one  memoirs  written  former  9 officials.)’ of  Instead,  the memoir:  actions,  these  not  about  in its agenda or impact.  the possibility of political intentions in  memoirs  by  are  that is,  of  the  primary  dangers and  politicians  of  the  of  use  high-powered  other  “political” is used to identify the subject are writings  where politics  is  about  implicitly  “political”  limited  to  the  events  and  domain of  “high politics” or affairs of the state.  19  See for example Robert Young “Partial Recall: Political Memoirs and Biography from the Third Republic” in “Political Memoir: Essays on the Politics of Memory” ed. George Egerton. Ts, 63.  11 This  limited and,  arguably,  dated definition of  “political”  remains entrenched in academia.  Within the historical community,  political  be  history  continues  to  viewed  as  election and administration of government, reform of government, often  the  study  of  branches  through  administered (diplomatic corps, defense, The  feminist  the  public agitation for  the relationships between governments,  traditional  “high politics.” 20  the  which  and  government  is  finance, etc.): in brief,  contention that  the personal  is  political has seemingly had no impact. Of course this is not true;  it has had tremendous impact on  the study of women and many historians continue to do interesting and valuable research demonstrating the political implications of women’s  writings  corresponding work  and  21 actions.  adjustment  testifies  to  the  in  That  there  has  the way historians  conservative  grasp  not  been  yet  categorize  of  habit  a  their  and  the  fundamental link between the classification of knowledge and the exercise of power.  We can and must change the way we speak about  our  implication  work,  and  by  how  we  think  about  our  lives.  Obviously, to advocate doing so is a political move; to neglect or  20  An example of the maintenance of this conception of politics can be found in Political Memoir: Essays on the Politics of Memory ed. George Egerton. Of eighteen essays, twelve concern the memoirs of heads-of-state, politicians or diplomats; two are concerned with armed defense of the state; one with state-organized spying; one traces the tradition among political leaders in India; and two, written by women-as-observers, again concern affairs of state. 21  At the University of British Columbia, for instance, Pamela Boniface’s 1991 MA thesis “The Personal is Political: Russian Schoolmistresses Speak for Themselves” is an important example.  0  H Cl)  •  H H,  Cl)  C)  S  0  -  3 H  CD  c-i-  H-  ‘-<  Cl)  CD  <  hI  0  CD  (Q  0  H  0  H  0  i-  -  H-  0  c-i  Q ‘<  c-i-  Q  c-i-  CD CD  H,  H-  5  CD  H II  —  Cl)  (1  CD  l))  H-j  0  N CD  p  i-  0  c-i-  CD  I-  CD  <  I—h fr  c-i-  CD  CD  CD  hi,  CD  h’  Q CD  0  (Q  ‘<  H  H  hI Cl)  Cli  H 0  H  H-  Cl)  0  ) c-iH-  c-iCD  Cli H  H  H-  H  ‘  i  •  H-  ci  -  H-  CD  U  0  H  H  Cl)  l  HCD  Cl)  H  Cli  H-  c-i0  (J)  l) H H  0  c-i-  CD  H  0  CD  Cl)  C)  C) ))  Hc-iH-  0 H  Itj  Hct H-  0  i-  0  hI  Q  Q  0  c-i-  H-  (l)  H  H-  l-  (Q 0  cr CD  C)  CD  0 H  c-i-  0  hI  0  H 0  3 Cl) C)  Cl)  c-i-  Cl)  CD hI  0  CD  5  0  H,  H, Hc-i-  i-  c-i-  H,  H  0  Cli Ii  Cl)  CD  0 H  ø-  CD  H-  Cli  H  C)  0  Cl)  CD  -  C)  c-i-  0  H  j  c-i-  c-iH-  CD  CD  Cl)  c-iH0  F-  M  CD  C)  CD  H  C)  Cl)  < CD  Ci) CD H  0  c-iH-  0  Cl)  H M  I-HCD  CD  Q  H,-  0  Q  Hc-iH-  H, H  CD  H-  (Q  •  cu  H  P)  H-  H  0  CD  -  Cl)  c-i-  P) C)  CD  Cl)  CD  çt  3 c-i-  Cli  c-i-  Cl)  Cl)  H  i  ‘  c-i-  5  h  0  0  c-i  c-i-  Cl)  -  H-  c-i-  Cl)  0  5  0  H,  H-  c-i-  CD < CD -  H-  H HI-h  ‘<  Cli HH  Cl)  CD  CD  <  C)  ))  CD  H,  0  c-i-  tI  C)  H-  Cl)  H  I  HCl)  -  CD  c-i-  Cl)  H-  H  •  CD  (P  P  0  0  -  Q  H  CD  t  CD  0  CD  Cl)  0  l-  CD  CD —  CD  5  Cl) Cl) H-  H  S  Cl)  ‘  0  a  S  0  CD CD  H,  CD  ,  Cl)  Cl)  -  0  ICl)  ‘ti CD  Q  Cl)  C) CD  Z  Cli  Cl)  I-I  H  H HciH-  0  0  H,  <  Cli  Q  <  CD Cl)  (Cl  CD Cl)  C) I-  <  CD  CD  c-i-  Ij 0  -  H-  l<  çHH,  CD  H-  CD  Q  H  Cl)  H i c-iH0  CD  CD  H-  Q.  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Mary Jo Maynes uses it in “Gender and  Narrative Form in French and German Working-Class Autobiographies”: Then, of course, came the great wave of working-class political narratives by the Communards involved in the insurrections of 1870-71. Some of these were fairly restricted political memoirs, but others were fullfledged autobiographies •23 Maynes seems to label these writings “political” only because they contain information about the Conimunard uprising which comes within the traditional definition in terms of the effect Radical  intentions  on the state.  are twisted and confined by the unquestioned  parameters within which the study takes place. The interested nature of the definition of “political” current in academic circles and in force in the labelling of historiography is an example of the ways in which knowledge produced in academia, funded ultimately by government and/or money interests on the country)  serves to maintain the status quo.  “political memoirs”  The concept of  serves to limit the numbers of those who can  speak with personal authority on politics. can claim  (depending  “professional”  authority;  Academics,  of course,  and the rest of us  can bark  from the sidelines. The observation that we are all “political” historians, in the sense  that  we  are  people  with  our  own  political  views  which  perforce influence how we research and write history is generally  23  Mary Jo Maynes, “Gender and Narrative Form in French and German Working-Class Autobiographies” in Personal Narratives Group ed. InterpretincT Women’s Lives: Feminist Theory and Personal Narratives, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989), 112.  15 acknowledged with annoyance cannot They  and quickly  afford for such observations fundamental  are  academia.  Feminists  to be dismissed as  achieving  to  disregarded.  meaningful  truisms.  change  within  Those who succeed in pretending that their work supports  no political agenda are those whose agendas are most linked with maintaining the status quo. Feminist  literary theorists  demonstrating established  by  the the  gender  bias  literary  focus:  the  inherent  canon.  overlap between the two genres between memoir  have done  is  and autobiography  memoir  is  centred  considerable work the  in  is  classifications  Traditionally,  acknowledged, defined as  outward  on  in  while  the a  some  distinction  difference while  the  autobiography focuses inward on the development of the self. 24  The  boundary between these  related genres,  others  of  however,  is  under siege,  particularly from feminist scholars investigating autobiographical writings by women. The notion of the self upon which the distinction is based has explicitly been that propagated by Enlightenment thought and the success  and/or  determined  on  merit the  of  an  autobiography  was,  basis  of  the  ability  author’s  development of such an autonomous self.  until to  recently, trace  the  Literary theorist Sidonie  Smith articulates the consequences of such assumptions: Generic clothes have made the man, so to speak. Making men in specific ways, these practices reinforce dominant ideologies, official histories, and founding mythologies of the subject. In effect, the white, male, bourgeois, heterosexual human 24  Roy Pascal Desicrn and Truth in Autobiocrraphy, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1960), 5.  (Cambridge,  16 being becomes representative man, the universal human subject. “His” life story becomes recognizable, legitimate, and culturally real. Making representative men in this way, generic practices reinforce the subjectivities provided to those who do not share this set of identities. Moreover, they neutralize or suppress ideologies, histories, and subjectivities non-identical to those of the universal human subj ect 25 In other words, a subjectivity which distorts and does not fit is constructed as universal.  For women autobiographers, adherence  to this concept of individuality has been virtually impossible, or has been approximated only at Voice: the  a very high cost.  In  “The Other  Autobiographies of Women Writers,” Mary Mason argues that  four archetypes  for English-speaking women’s autobiographies  emerged in England during the  early middle  In  ages.  each,  the  author reveals herself in terms of her relationship to an Other: God,  her  father,  her  similar observation women’s  husband  or  her  spiritual  is made by Mary Jean Green  autobiographies  in  Quebec.  She  26 community. in her  finds  “a  A  study of focus  on  relationships with others rather than, as in men’s autobiographies, on the development  and successful  accomplishment of the  27 self.”  This concern with self/other relationships need not suggest that two  separate  (gender)  paradigms  are  required  for  the  study  25  Sidonie Smith, “Whose Talking/Who’s Talking Back? The Subject of Personal Narrative” Sicins: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 18 (1993), 393. See also: Brodzki and Schenck introduction, 1-2. 26  Mary G. Mason “The Other Voice: Autobiographies of women Writers” in Brodzki and Schenck, 22-23. 27  Mary Jean Green, “Structures of Liberation: Female Experience and Autobiographical Form in Quebec” in Brodzki and Schenck, 1889.  of  CD  Q  H  CD  H-  CD  H  I)  H- 0 Q CD (DCl)  QFr  •  J)  H-  C  H-  HH CD LQ CD  <  H-  rJ  Fr  -  CD  Fr  Cl) Cl)  CD  CD  H,  H  H  CD  Fr  Fr  -  H,  Cl) Cl) H  0 F-I  H,  C) P1 Fr H0  0  H  HCl)  N  M  =  ••  Cl  CD  H-  H H-  pi H  CD  0  H-  Cl)  Cl) Fr P1 Fr  CD  H-CD  CD  Fr  0 Fr  HCl)  H Fr Fr  CD  HC)H,FrFr P10 F-MCDCD  MCD  H Cl)P1i. 0 Frti 0HcH,  Cl)H  C)C)CD  Oc-i-CDCD HCDMC) CDMHFr  C) CD(D 0 M HCD  l.<Fr CD  Q.  1 I-I  1  Pik<H  H-HGCl)Q  CDH-ti MQCD Cl) -r Pi0=1<Cl) F-p HPiP)FCl) HFrCl)  C)CD0 HPiM 0  H  OCDPi< CDCl)H°  FrC)1’  C)CD  H (DyCl)<Ui  Li  Cl)FrH-J CDCDCD  -  1  Cl)  -  0  pj  Ui CD  H,  0  Cl)  C)  0  I-i,  -3  D CD  CD Cl)  Cl)  Cl)  M H Fr CD  CD  CD CD  0  Fr  0  ‘  k<  0 C) H CD Fr  (i)  pi CD  -  1  CD  Cl)  Fr 0  F1  -.  F-  CD  H,  CD  ti F-i H C)  CD  =  (  •  Fr H0  H HCD  Cl)  Cl) CD F-I  i_  Fr  H  P1  0  “  Cl) CD  I-I 0  ti  CD  Fr  P)  0  HFCD  CD ( 0 Fr HPi Fr H0  CD  Fr  Fr CD  çt  I- H  C1)(D  CD  H H  I:-’ CD  I-  Ui CD  CD  Fr H-  lJ  Pi F-I M  0 HI-i  Ui Ct) Pi  H  ti  H-  Cl)  H P1 Fr H-  CD  CD  Fr  0  H,  CD H  CD  c-r  H,  0  HCl)  H  P)  Cl)  -  CD  H, H,  0  Fr  CD  D  CD  t  M HFr H-  CD I  H,  H H  H,  CD Cl)  Q  <  0  H,  CD  Q  Fr i— CD  H-  Fr  HFr HC)  I-  C)  ‘-<  -  —  pl  CD H-Cl) Fr CD  H 0  Fr 0  CD F-  Cl)  CD  Fr  CD  H  C)  CD Cl)  Q  H  Cl) HCl) Fr CD  Cl)  F-  < 0 H-  Ui CD P1  Cl CD  CD  0  H  •  H  H  P1  Fr H 0  Fr CD  H-  <  Fr H  CD  Q  I-”  H-  Fr  0  CD  0 Fr  Q  l))  H,  Cl) CD H  CD CD  Cl) Fr  Fr H0  H  H-  <  Q  P1  H-  0  p  P)  H  0  CD  CD CD  Fr  CD  C) Fr H0  HCl) Fr H  CD  Fr  CD  H H CD  p  Fr  CD (Q  CD M Cl)  ‘  0  H-  Fr 0  P)  CD  0 N  C) Fr H 0  0  -  H,  H0  CD  CD  Fr  H-  0  Fr H  p)  H-  C) Ht)) H  0  Cl)  H p1 Cl) Cl)  P1  P1 C) CD  Fr HP H H  0 Fr CD  1  CD frI  Qj  CD  H,  0  Cl)  C)  H HFr H-  0  CD  Fr  Q-  Pi  Fr  Cl  CD  Q  Fr 0  CD  CD  C) P1  HFr H-  I—i  p H  Cl)  CD  j  ip H IH  Cl)  pi  CD  ti  )  H Fr  0  Q  C)  Cl) D H-  Fr H-  P1  CD F-I  0  ‘  Cl) CD H  CD  rr  Fr  Fr Cl)  (j)  CD  (Q frI pi  0  H  Fr 0  CD Cl) Fr CD F-I  Z  H-  -  0  Fr H-  0 H  <  CD  HFr Cl)  H H  CD  P1  -  CD  Cl) H Cl) Fr CD  CD  Pi  Cl) Fr CD  H  ‘t  H0 P  0  Fr  H  18 the world as Simone de Beauvoir, contemporary Asian-American author Maxine  Hong  Kingston  chooses  to  her  frame  own  “otherness”  in  western society by casting the story of her childhood in the genre of  memoirs,  larger  presenting herself  story  of  community.  an  observer  and part-actor  In The Woman Warrior:  Memoirs  in  a  of  a  Girlhood amonc Ghosts, Kingston consciously liberates herself both from the obligation to construct a unified self in the tradition of the western male model, as well as from the obligation to create a unified,  linear narrative. 30  Kingston’s  generic  Lee Quinby argues that to disregard  manoeuvre  would  be  to  miss  the  radical  implications of this move. Unlike the subjectivity of autobiography, which is presumed to be continuous over time, memoirs (particularly in their collective form) construct a subjectivity that is multiple and discontinuous. The ways that an “I” is inscribed in the discourse of memoirs therefore operate in resistance to the modern era’s dominant construction of individualized selfhood, which follows the dictum to, above all else, know thy interior self. In relation to autobiography, then, memoirs function as count ermemory)’ Quinby’s charge that the author’s choice of generic form must be respected is worth heeding to a point. however,  It must be  remembered,  that her demand is based on her study of the writings of  a late twentieth century author who, brilliance, consciousness  lives about  °  in  a  ideas  society and  for all her originality and  where  forms,  the and  level about  of  popular  relationships  Lee Quinby, “The Subject of Memoirs: The Woman Warrior’s Technology of Ideographic Selfhood” in Sidonie Smith and Julia Watson eds. Decolonizing the Subject: The Politics of Gender Women’s Autobiography (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1992), 297. 31  Quinby,  298.  19 between oppressed peoples  and dominant  cultures,  is  quite high.  Quinby’s analysis is not necessarily applicable to the writings of all women in all times. Many women have not had the privilege of living in a society in which ideas about the naturalness of the heterosexual) male norm,  (white, middle-class,  long taken for granted,  While women might have  are under siege.  sensed the discordance between the  story  they were trying to tell and the forms they were trying to use, is  unlikely  problem  that the  as  autobiographical boundaries,  they  the  would have  identified  inappropriateness model.  Studying  transgression  of  the  the  of  source  western  blurring  the  and  limits,  of  the  of  it the  (male) generic  distortions  resulting from attempts at generic adherence remains a potentially fruitful method for examining women’s life writings. Literary critic Ellen Peel has used this sort of approach to the  writings  of  Doris  Lessing.  Lessing  has  formulated a radical critique of the notion of autobiography.  In  Peel  argues  that  an article entitled “The Self is Always an Other: Way  Home  to  Autobiography,”  Peel  examines  what  Going the Long she  calls  the  “approach/avoidance [to autobiography] pattern” in Lessing’s work. 32 Lessing redirects  begins the  works focus  to  which  would  society  seem  and/or  autobiographical,  those  around her.  but Peel  explains: In order to understand her statements [about the artificiality of writing about oneself], it is essential to understand that 32  Ellen Peel, “The Self is Always an Other: Going the Long Way Home to Autobiography” Twentieth Century Literature 35.1, 1.  0  LI]  -  H,  HU)  .  HU)  .  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P1)HU)H. —U)CD  H-CDP1) U)0  CDCD F—CDCrCD  ‘i  21 enables us to explore an individual’s exercise of and resistance to power and the creation of self/other identities. texts  negotiations  as  paradigms.  of,  or  conforming  to,  We need to read dominant  generic  Historians can examine the ideas and factors which an  author considers worthy of inclusion and those which are  (perhaps  surprisingly)  author’s  excluded.  We  must  consider  both  the  explicit and implicit political purpose for writing the narrative and what that reveals about who they were in their society and what their society was like. In the following chapters, philosopher teacher  and  and  writer  grass  Simone  roots  the narratives of French feminist de  activist  Beauvoir,  and  French  Emilie  Carles;  and  school French  diplomats Robert Coulondre and André Francois-Poncet, will be read with particular attention to the ways in which their texts reveal personal  negotiations  of  twentieth-century France.  socio-political  macrostructures  in  Such readings will demonstrate the ways  in which personal and political are fundamentally linked.  22 Chapter Two: Negotiating Identity in Twentieth-Century France In traditional Republic  “political”  in France in 1871 is  history,  the advent of the Third  said to have ushered in an era of  both political change and long term structural political stability. Within the first ten years,  “democracy” in France had been secured  and grass roots organizing began the spread of Republican ideals throughout  France.’  Without  dismissing  the  significance  of  the  democratic structures put in place and of the reforms undertaken by the Third Republic,  such sweeping praise must be tempered.  These  reforms did not fundamentally alter the condition of French women, 2 who remained ineligible to vote until 1944 when the Fourth Republic replaced  the  Vichy  remained  the  foundation  Regime. of  Patriarchy the  French  in  the  state:  French  basic  family  rights  to  independence and self determination began slowly to be conceded to married French women only in the late 1960s and early l97Os. look  on  the  freedom  and  Third Republic democracy  for  as the  the  regime which  French  nation,  finally then,  To  secured  would  tragically silly.  ‘ See for example Gordon Wright France in Modern Times: From the Enlicthtenment to the Present 4th ed. (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1987), 211-274; or Alfred Cobban A History of France Volume 3: 1871-1962 (Harmondsworth: Cox & Wyman Ltd., 1965) 9-84. 2  In any given society, women generally represent between 52 and 54% of the population. Generalizations about a society which are not applicable to over half of the population are obviously pointless. Toril Moi, Simone De Beauvoir: The Making of an Intellectual Woman (Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell Publishers, 1994) 187.  be  23 Nevertheless, republican reforms did have a significant impact on the lives of women.  Some fundamental contradictions between  republican goals and limitations on the freedom and equality of women  resulted  Women  from  in  small  fissures  such diverse  social  de  Caries  (from the Alpine peasantry)  fissures,  (from  the  the patriarchal  and geographical  Simone  Beauvoir  in  Parisian  structure.  backgrounds  bourgeoisie)  wedged themselves  and  as  Emilie  into  these  creating new possibilities for themselves and for those  to follow.  In their life narratives, these women give evidence of  how they negotiated the social roles  contradictions between their prescribed  and their personal aspirations.  These demonstrate  both political resistance and compromise. Perhaps the most significant of such fissures, particularly in relation to the lives of Carles and Beauvoir, were those produced by  educational  republicans  reform.  needed  to  In secure  order  to  popular  secure backing  candidates and hence for republican ideals.  the for  new  regime,  republican  In rural communities  this would involve overthrowing long standing traditions.  These  included voting for the best known man in the district such as the local chatelain or other notable or alternatively, as was a common practice under the Second Empire, selling votes under the direction of the local mayor or sub-prefect. notable candidates,  In the event of two competing,  local feuds and family loyalties were grafted  onto the debate or long-standing animosities between villages or  H  0 Q  Cr  -  HC) Cl)  I-h CD  C) 0  H  H CD  9)  l5  9)  ‘tS  9) H-  Cr I-5  Cr 0  H Cl)  0)  C)  H,  0  Cr  9)  I_h  c-  CD  CD  1-5  ci 9)  2  0)  CD  Cl)  CD  Cr  H  0  Cr  CD  C))  H  i  Cr 9)  Cl)  CD  CD  ci-  9;’  CD  9)  H HHO) H-  9)  Cr  CD  CD  Cr  ci  I_s  CD  I-  CD CD H-H  02  H0 CD  H  0 H  Cr  9)  CD  Cr  H-I  0  H 0  c-f  CD ‘p 9)  ‘p  0) CD  CD  ci  0)  0)  <  H,  Cr CD 05  -<  CI)  I-i  C) 9)  -  CD  Cl)  H-  CD  ci  Cr  I-S  CD H  Cr  C) CD 9)  Cr 0  w  CD  Cl)  H  H I-S  ‘p  H ‘p  H  Cr  9)  HCr H 0  ci  9)  I_s  Cr  H-  C) 9)  HH, H-  ‘p  H-  C!)  ‘p  0) Cr 9) tY H  Cl)  CD  CD  Cr  CD  C)  CD  -.  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S  CD  Cl)  ci  H  S  CD  c-f  0 H  0  Cr  ‘p  H  C))  0 0  H  H,  0  0  ci-  CD  9)  0)  ci  CD  <  H-  CD  S  CD  H,  0  CD C))  9)  CD  Cr  0  c-f  CD ci  9) C)  cf c-f  CD  S  9)  C)  CD  ccl)  ()  CD ‘p  Cl)  H CD  CD  c-  —  0)  0  Cr H  H  CD  5  CD  c-i  H H-  CD  H,  0  9)  CD  0 H ci  ‘p  9)  Cr  Cl)  -  0  I_s  ‘p  H  9)  H-  c-f  H-  0 H  9) H-  C)CD c-f  H-  c-  0 C)  CD  H-  CD  9)  Cl) c-f  Cl)  CD  CD  Cr  Its  9)  I-  ‘p  0  (-f  25  normale supérieure for women at Sèvres.  Even this,  however,  was  insufficient and for certain subjects women teachers still needed university training,  which was  accessible to them only with the  bac.  The Catholic  1908,  the state schools were authorized to prepare women for the  school  system initially filled this gap.  In  bac as well. 7 Both Emilie became possible however,  led  Caries  and  Simone  Beauvoir  de  led  lives  for women only through these reforms.  the  life  or  fulfilled  the  functions  which  Neither,  specifically  envisioned by those who had introduced the new regulations. in  her  own  way  (unconventional) France.  used way  her in  small  the  advantages  world  of  make  to  early  Each  her  own  twentieth-century  Both women’s life narratives negotiate the  (traditional)  generic boundary between memoir and autobiography and draw on other stylistic strategies to develop important, non-traditional aspects of their stories.  In both narratives,  the author and others are fundamental  the relationships between to the story of the self.  Their personal narratives bear witness to their own resistance to and negotiation with the sexuality,  marriage,  ideas  in their community about women’s  and motherhood as well  as  formal political  institutions. Emilie Caries  (née Ailais)  was born in 1900 in the mountain  village of Val-des-Près, 7 kilometres from Briançon in the Hautes Alpes. was  She was the fifth of six children of peasant parents and  raised Moi,  by  her  42-44.  father  after  her  mother  was  struck  dead  by  26 lightning when Emilie was four.  Although all family members worked  at heavy manual labour from dawn until dusk (with the exception of the mandatory school hours and weekly mass), well off  in comparison to others  they were relatively  in their community.  They were  never hungry and they lived in the only chateau in the village. 8 Nevertheless, prior to Emilie’s mother’s death, her father, Joseph Allais (who did not know a trade) smuggled sheep across the Italian border in order to earn income. others,  After her death,  he,  like many  stole wood from the communal forest. 9  As children, Emilie and her elder brother would get up at five in the morning to do chores until school began and rush across town on  their  lunch break  to  tend  reading simply did not exist. such  communities  were  flocks  and haul  water.  Time  for  The only entertainment afforded in  the winter  evening  veillées when  several  families would gather under one roof and tell stories to keep warm and pass the hours until bedtime.’° Education beyond the mandatory and free primary education was virtually out of reach of the peasant classes.  In Emilie’s case,  it was made possible by a scholarship from the state, her relative proximity to the town of Briancon, giving  up  her  labour  during  and her father’s generosity in  school  hours  at  the  urging  of  the  8  According to Eugen Weber, “Village society distinguished between an ordinary cottage and a chateau with an upper story and a weather vane on the roof....,’ Peasants 245. ...  Emilie Carles, A Life of Her Own: The Transformation of a Countrywoman in Twentieth-Century France, trans. Avriel H. Goldberger (New York: Penguin Books, 1992) 22-23, and 67. 10  Weber,  Peasants 413.  27 departmental  Within  inspector.  school  the  family,  Emilie paid  dearly for her privileges: the other children resented carrying the extra burden of work and her  eldest  sister,  Rose-Marie,  openly  fought against Emilie becoming a school teacher while she herself was destined to become a maid in a bourgeois household.”  For all  her hard work, Emilie’s aspirations could only be achieved at the expense of those around her. In 1916, after the death of her elder sister and with both of her brothers away at the front,  Emilie was forced to abandon her  studies after earning her brevet; offset the cost of her lost labour.  even the scholarship could not In autumn 1918, she decided to She worked as an au pair at  resume her studies and left for Paris. a private catholic class time, month.  school  from 7am to  10pm,  except  for her own  in exchange for room, board, tuition and 50 francs per  Within a month of her arrival  she learned of her elder  brother’s death in a German prisoner-of-war camp and returned to Val-des-Près  to care  for the  family  farm.  She returned to the  school the following October and earned her brevet supe’rieur (which normally required three years of study)  by the following spring.  She passed with distinction and received a personal congratulation from the examiners:  2 a remarkable accomplishment.’  The following  year she earned her teacher’s certificate, which entitled her to teach primary school. Emilie decided to continue her studies the  “  Carles,  59.  12  Carles,  77.  following year,  28 working  as  a  of  teacher  private school and studying goal  was  become  to  university teacher.  a  for  Italian  400  francs  for a license at  “professor”;  that  per month at  Her  the Sorbonne.  is,  a  high  a  school  Due to over work and exhaustion, however,  or she  soon fell ill with a pulmonary infection and was forced to return the only real  to her native mountain air; doctor.  cure according to the  She worked as a primary school teacher in the department  of Gap from 1923 until 1962.” Simone de Beauvoir was also a teacher, French terms, elder  of  two  Paris  in  class  family  She was born in  a professor. daughters  or more accurately in  of  an  fortunes were on the decline.  upper  middle  1908,  the  whose  By the time she reached secondary  school the family’s financial status had diminished to that of the 4 petty bourgeoisie.’  Her father Georges was  comfortable middle class family. atheist.  the second son of a  He was raised Catholic but was an  Françoise de Beauvoir was a devout Catholic raised in a  wealthy bourgeois family whose fortunes were lost around the time of her marriage.  Under her direction, both Simone and her sister  Helene were educated in a private Catholic girls’  school in Paris  from the time of their primary studies through to the completion of their bac.  Francoise personally attended nearly every one of her  daughters’  classes and censored the copious reading of the young  5 Simone.’  Childhood was  ‘  Caries,  ‘  Moi,  39.  Moi,  42.  84 and 224.  devoted  to  learning  in  school  and  in  g  Ui  •L  0  —  0  —  CD  H-  Q  0  0  H  H  H  H-  c-I  Cl)  Cl)  0 H H-  ?  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Q Ct CD a Ct CD Q hI Cl  Ct  I-j  Cli  CD 0 H  H 0  CD  CD  CD— CD  H  ()  CD  (i  (Q  H  X  CD  0  Ct  Ct HQ CD Cl) Ct  hI  CD H’  CD  H, Ct CD t—  ‘-  CD  <  CD H CD  -  ‘—0 0  H  H-  0  Cl) ‘<  H-  (Q  I  CD hI  ‘  Cl)  l) CD  ‘  -  H-  CD  ()  CD Cl) Hdl) Ct  I-  0 Q Ct Cl)  Cl)  Q  Cl)  Cl)  CD  H-  HCl)  Ct  H  Cl)  CD  H  HN CD  0  CD  Cl)  <  H  CD  Cl)  Q-  hI  H, 0  <  Ct  H  0 0  CD hI  0 H,  Cl)  CD  H-  -  H-  Q Cl)  (1)  CD  0  0  CD  Ct  ,  CD  Cl)  CD  Cl  Ct Cl)  D  h  CD  (-I-  (Q  Ct  Cl) H-  <  CD  hI  Cl) Ct CD  H,  CD  CD H H, I  0  CD Cl)  H-  ,  Ii  Ct CD 0  Cl)  H CD dl)  ‘  C) Cl)  H,  CD  0  dl)  d  H-  Cl)  °  H-  Ct  CD H P  ‘  t-  CD  H CD  H Ct  H,  cdl  -  CD  oH,  0  H-  Ct  Ct  CD  ‘  CD  i<  0  H-0 H,  Ct  H  CD H  Cl)  p  -  0  CD  i  0  IQ  H-  Cl)  0 H,  ‘t, CD hI  CD  (1) CD  Cl  HCt  I-’  CD  Cl  CD  Ct  Ct  h’  0  H,  Q  H  (°  CD  I-xJ  Ct  hI  Cl)  C•) H CD  H-  H-  -  CD Cl)  c_l  0 H,  Cl) H0) CD  hI  CD  H H  Cl)  0 hI  HCt ‘<  -  Cl)  Ct CD P.1  Cl)  Ct 0 H H-CD  dl)  H-  -  Cl)  HCl)  H, Ct CD  •  H-  hI  Cl)  H-  Ct  Ct  Ct  Cl)  Ct  CD  H-  Q  CD  H  0  Ct  Cl)  Cl)  Cl)  CD CD  Cl)  H Ct  Cl)  hI  H0  Ct 0  Cl)  CD hI  0 H,  hI  CD  hI CD Cl)  CD  t)  Ct  Ct  -  H 0  Ct  Cl  H  CD  <  hI CD  Cl)  -  CD  hI  HH  a  ‘  CD  CD  H-  Cl) Ct 0  0 Ct  Cl)  Cl)  CD  H  CD  HH H-  Ci  H CD  H-  CD  iCD  Ct  H  O•  0  Cl)  CD hI0  H-0  CDH’Cl)  H-  Cl)H  HCD  -Cl) Cl)  i- HCDCDCt  ‘<0  HH, Q’.Cl)I-  CDCD hI  0H, iH,  ‘d  ‘<< CD CD Cl)5 CtCl)Cl)  CD  1 ’ <H H-  Ct  QCl)Cl)’<  O2F-  <  CD-  Ct0  Cl)  CD  CthI CD  g  CtCI)  CD  Cl  M  ic  H,  Ct0  Cl)Ct  H-hI  —  Cl) H-0)CD  H-  CDH CD  Cl)  Cl)r”H  ‘ii  CD HCl) hICDH (-t  H-. < 0 CD ‘-<  CD H  CD 02  frj  0 CDCl H CD><H0  Cl)CtOH(l)  CDh  0HCD 0)  Qrtt—-0  CDCl)(  CDCDQ0 H i H-  JHCtCDHiG 00H0CD  .0  Q  (Q0-•P)CD  H-Cl)3CD<  H  -.  Cl) H ‘< Cl) HCl)  H H  H,  CD  çi  Cl)  CD  Q  H-  -  0 Cl) CD  0 H  0  (-t  CD  Ct H-  ‘-I  CD hI  Cl)  hI  CD  Cl)  dl)  H-  CD  CD  Ct  CD dl)  Ct  CD ‘-I  <  <  CD  0  ti  Cl)  Cl)  CDCD H02HHH •CD0 CDCD 111i (0dJ)  Q CD HO ‘<Cl)  CD  Cl)  ctfl  C)Oi Cl)OCD  Ct Cl)  Q  H,  L.i  38 the nature of her self.  The self-revelation aimed at knowledge of  the intimate interior self found in traditional autobiography seems neither desirable nor necessary.  Furthermore, her strategy reveals  a great deal about the construction of identity for peasant women Such women did not exist as  in early twentieth century France.  To impose any other standard of  entirely autonomous individuals. on  judgement  Caries’s  autobiography  would  amount  to  comparing  apples and oranges. Self/other relationships also play a dominant role in Simone de Beauvoir’s autobiography. life narrative, was  “self”  her  When she sat down to write her own  she did so with the philosophical conviction that different  fundamentally no  than  that  of  a man.  While well-aware of many of the social constraints on women in a patriarchal society (she had already published The Second Sex), she did not believe that this affected a woman’s ability to conform to 29 the aesthetic standards of her time. story in the form of the traditional  She worked to cast her life (male)  autobiography and her  narrative reflects the tensions between her considerable privilege in  literary  society and her  relative marginalization  in  French  society as a woman. Following  a  fairly  strict  chronological  order,  Beauvoir’s  memoir traces in careful detail the development of her intellect and identity and her development as a writer. of  most  interest  for  this  study  (there  are  Of the two volumes four),  the  first,  entitled Memoirs of a Dutiful Daughter is the more successful in 29  Moi,  195.  0  Di  q  Dl  Hft 0  Q.  Dl  Cl)  CD  C)  C)  Dl  CD  0  H-  ft  CD  5  0  c’  HH  I-h Dl  H-  Dl Cl)  5  H 0  Q. H-  HCD  ft  Cl)  H,  H  Dl H  H-  H  <  0  CD ft Dl H-  Cl)  H,  -  ft  H,  CD  -  C Dl  H  bi CD Dl  CD  -  0 H  CD  ft  ft  0  0  ft  H-  Dl  CD  H  Dl  0  CD  H,  0  CD  CD  ft  Di ft  (Q  H-  ft Dl  H Dl C) CD  Q  H0  CD Cl)  I-I  Ct,  ft  C) H  C)  C) ft  CD H H CD  H-  CQ  H-  CD  CD  CD  H,  0  CD  H  ft Dl  CD  -  CD Dl  -  Cl)  (  Cl) CD C) 0  I-  f’i  -  H-  0  H  Di  CD  CD  ft  ft CD  I-h  —ft  HDl  OCl)  biH-  HCD  0 H CD  <  Obi CD ftDl  OCD  CD  H-  H-  Cl)  CD  Di  p-  I  C CD Dl  CD  Dl  h  0  H-  Dl  H  CD  H H  ft CD  H-  F  CD  CD CD ft  Dl  0  Dl H  ft  ft CD  Cl)  H-  ‘<  CD  CD  ft  ‘  0 H-  CD Dl  H,  0  <  Cl)  CD  Hft  <  H  H-  Cl)  Dl  CD  CD  CD  ft  H-  HCl) ft Cl)  (Q  0 H-  ft  H0  Dl  H-  5  CD  H,  0  H CD  Di  ft  H  Di  H-  Hft  ‘  ft Cl)  0  S  H-  ft  CD  H  CD  0  Q  Dl  ft  0  <  CD  1  Cl)  ft  0 H, H,  <  ‘-C  Cl) ft 0  CD  0  H-  H-  Cl)  H H  ft CD  0  ft  Dl  CD  0 H-  <  CD Dl  0 Dl H  (Q  Di H  H-  H,  Di  0  Cl)  CD  Dl  ft  Cl)  CD  ft  5  Q  Dl  Q —  H  H-  C)  CD  ft  CD H--.  ‘-  CD  ft  bi  •  ft  CD  0  H-  Cl)  H  H  Cl) H-  H-  1  -‘  CD  Dl  -  Cl)  o  CD 0  0  H  0  Dl  Cl) ft  H-  Dl tQ Dl  H H-  H  CD  CD  Dl  H0  ft  C) Dl  Q  0 CD  X  CD  C)  Dl M Q Cl)  ft 0  (Q  H-  0  H  CD  <  CD  CD  <  ft H-  Dl  Dl  ft  CD  CD  C) 0  Dl  Dl  o  0  HH  C)  I-  CD  H,  0  -<  0 I-  ft  Cl)  r -  5  H  ft  CD  ft  Dl  H,  0  Cl)  Hh  0  CD  H-  Dl  ft  Cl)  i-i,  CD  ft  H-  0  Cl)  CD  ft  t  <  C) H  CD Dl 1  H0  Dl  ft  Dl  C) 0  H  Dl  h  H0  0  Dl  ft  Cl) H  CD  Cl)  H-  Dl ft  HC)  H,  ft H-  Li.  Dl  Q-  Dl  ft  CD  ft CD  0  ft H  ft CD  H-  CD  I-h  0  ft  CD  ft CD  Dl  t-  ft CD H H H-  ft  0  H-  Dl  Cl)  H,  Cl)  H-  ft  II  H,  0  Cl)  M,  0  HI-h C  ft  H,  Dl  C)  Dl  ft  F-  H-  CD  Hft  H-  CD  ft 0  CD  H  Dl  HCl)  i-  0 H-  <  CD Dl  II  CD  ft  Iti  Cl) 0 Ii Cl)  Dl  CD  CD  H  0  H  H H  H,  0  Cl)  Dl  H,  0  Dl H ft  ft  0  LQ H CD Cl)  C  Cl) ft  CD  Cl)  H-  H  H,  CD H  0  CD  cn  ft CD  Cl) ft  M  H,  CD  ft  Q  H-  H-  C) CD  Dl H CD  <  Dl  Hft Cl)  H-  —  CD CD  C)  Cl)  0 CD  H  H CD  ‘r  CD 0  Dl  HCD Cl)  ft  H-  -  H Dl C) CD Cl)  -  CD Cl)  H  -  H  Dl  Dl  Dl l  CD  k<  0  ft  Dl  CD  <  0  0  Dl  w  Dl  H  ft Dl  fr’l CD Cl) Cl) H-  0  <  ft H-  ‘t  I-I  (  C) Dl  Dl C)  X  CD  ft  CD  ft  M  0  H0  CD  H-  CD  ft  H  H-  H Cl)  CD  H0 Cl  I-i  CD  CD  H-  CD Dl H  HC)  —  1 H-  Dl  CD  H-  CD  i0 H  I  ft CD  -  Dl  CD  Hft  H  01  -  Dl  Cl)  c  Cl)  H-  CD  0  th h  L.J  40 her dramatic defeat in a debate with Sartre by the Medici fountain Her tale of her development as a free  in the Luxembourg Gardens.  and wilful spirit ends with the death of her dearest friend, Zaza. the  Throughout  first  will  Simone’s  volume,  independence  to  is  developed through her friendship with Zaza and succeeds in inverse relationship to the latter’s growing helplessness in the face of her  family’s  she  that  demands  conform to her prescribed gender  32 role.  Throughout the following volumes, Beauvoir the intellectual  woman,  develops as a writer and thinker in constant  relation to  Sartre. The  dominance  of  this  self/other  speaks volumes about the political  paradigm  in  implications of  her  memoirs  the dominant  social structures on the lives of intellectual women in France. her “genealogy” of Beauvoir, careful,  to  historically  In  Toni Moi subjects this relationship situated,  critical  attention.  She  outlines three important reasons for Beauvoir’s casting of herself as Sartre’s second. herself.  First is the explanation suggested by Beauvoir  Under patriarchy,  a man,  who would already enjoy more  privilege than a woman, would have to prove himself superior to her 33 in order to be her equal in a relative sense.  Second,  the young  Simone was trained from early childhood to seek and receive praise for being  “interesting”;  as she matures her formidable intellect  34 becomes less valuable to her as a “desiring heterosexual woman.” 32  u  Moi,  218.  Moi,  18—19.  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CD  ci 0  CD  H-  HCD H H<  CD Cl)  l-  CD  -  <  H Hci  0 i-  )  l-  ct  Q CD C) H-  CD  CD  C) Cl)  Z Cl)  çt  H-  Cl  l)  CD  lQ  Cl)  ci H0  CU  Ct  C)  CD  CD  ci  C)  H-  Cr  Cl)  CD  <  Cl)  ‘<  ci  C) CD  Cr CD  H-  Cl)  CD  t  HCD  i-h  0  H 0  ci  H CU  CD  HCD  Cl)  CD  <1  C) ci  0  ‘  CD  Cl  Cl)  CD  p  H-  -  -  H H-  Cl  X  Cl) CD  Cl)  -  CD  0  L..)  44 be fortunate to marry someone she liked at all and doubly lucky to be matched with someone who seemed to respect her mind. passages  Many  the  By  time he  (with his new wife, whom he had married for her  returned to Paris  Beauvoir had begun the independent pursuit of social and  dowry),  she says, merely irritated by his  intellectual pleasures and was,  Nevertheless, she does make the point of recounting how  39 betrayal.  himself  ruined  he  concerning,  self-doubts  38 Jacques.  about  and meditations  for,  longings  her  to  devoted  are  thrown  eventually  out  family  his  and  his  by  wife  speculation  through for  a  being  and  drunkard  was  and a  womanizer Her chord  in  relationship her  heart of  with and  Sartre,  her  love)  however,  desire  was  only  for  a  a  struck  union  secure  overcome  different (the  intellectual  by  traditional  mark  conviction.  The argument for personal freedom and sexual liberty  which he presented to her was stronger than her attachment to her own emotional needs and she agreed to a sort of contract with him: for  two  years  they  would  stay  together  and  be  monogamous,  thereafter they would freely seek other sexual partners but they would remain one because of their close intellectual affinity and ’ 4 their resolve to tell each other everything. 38  See for example Beauvoir, Memoirs, 216-220, 242,  282, 288  or 318.  40  Beauvoir, Memoirs,  346-347.  Beauvoir, Memoirs,  349.  trans. Simone de Beauvoir The Prime of Life (Cleveland: The World Publishing Company, 1962), 24. 41  Peter Green  0  Di Cr Hpi  -r  CD  CD  H, H,  0  Di  H,  H-  i—i  H  tuT1  CD  H,  —  CD  Cr  Q  •  Di i  ICD CD HCD  H  Di  0  -  k<  Cr  CD  0 H  -  —  CD I-  Q  Di  0  H,  Di  H  CD  (  H Di  HDi  H-  <  H H-  Di  0  Di  Di CD  CD  CD  Cr  Cr 0  CD  CD CD HCD Cr Di  CD  ‘  Cr  H,  Cr  C)  Di  Di  CD  H-  .  -<  H Di C)  Di H  Dl  I—s Di C) CD  CD  Cr 0  HDi 0  -  -  CD  CD  H  D) 0 0 H Di H  CD  0 H,  CD  Dl  CD  Q.  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Di  Di  CD CD CD  H  HCr CD  H-  H-  Di CD  CD  H CD  Cr  Cr  H H-  CD  CD  HCD  CD  fr  0  H,  CD Cr  H’  CD  0  CD  CD CD H-  Cr  Di  Di  H  Di  <  HH  CD  CD Di  H CD  CD  Di  CD  Cr  -  H CDCD Cr Di CD CD  CD  CDCDrrH  H,  0  CD  Di  CD  CD  CD  -.  CD  CD  <  H C) 0 CD Di0CDCDH HCD Cr CD Cr HCD CD Cr CD CD Cr CD  CD  CD  H  0  Cr  0  ti Cr H-  ‘—a  H H0  H  CD  0  C) CD Cr  i-  CD  H-  Cr  0  CD  Di  0  II  CD  Ii  Dl  CD Cr  CD CD H-  UI  46 autobiography she denounces the arranged marriages,  which allied  families and consolidated property, prevalent in her community. Usually the men arranged everything without consulting anyone. When they met at fairs, they talked about business, they Sacks of oats, breeding hogs, talked about the future. shearing sheep, arranging marriages were all alike everything got tossed into the same bag. why don’t “Say, you have a girl at home, I’ve got a son the land. got you’ve farmhouse, got a. I’ve off? we marry them contract.” a draw up let’s with you, So if it’s all right That’s what they said; then they drank on it, shook hands, and the deal was made. For men and women alike, but above all for women, lives 44 were broken by this custom. -  -  Although neither the man nor the woman had control over the making of the match, once it was sealed, he gained control over her her property and her  body,  life.  In story after story,  Caries  recounts the horrendous fates of many women, beaten to the point of death or madness,  or forever separated from their true love,  this age old tradition. own  marriage,  the  by  By the time she comes to the story of her  reader  is  well  aware  of  her  reasoning  and  resolution on this point. In 1927, Midi.  she fell in love with Jean Carles, a worker from the  A painter by trade when he arrived in Val-des-Près to ask  her father for her hand, he immediately joined in with the haying, prepared a delicious meal for the family and later transformed the old chateau with whitewash and hand painted frescoes.  Animosity  between the peasant class and the working class, however, ran deep and  although her  father  liked Jean,  his  decision was  no.  He  instructed his daughter to make instead a match with a peasant boy  H  Caries,  8.  47 45 with property. Emilie rebelled,  making use of all her arguments about the  value of the man, the importance of love, and the dreadful fate of She concluded by telling her father that he  marriages of alliance.  Unlike many peasant women she  46 would agree or he would lose her.  she had a  was not wholly reliant on her father and his property;  small bit of independence as a school teacher and in this case she used  it  to  assert  will.  her  father  Her  capitulated  and  she  continued the fight against the rest of her family clan on the same She also refused to draw up the  grounds.  traditional marriage  contract in which the worldly possessions of each were listed.  To  do so would have been humiliating to Jean who owned nothing and would have  exposed his  debts  to  family.  her  Marriage,  argues  Emilie, is about sharing and wealth is about something far greater than property: Jean was authentic wealth, the only kind I had always wanted A head full of dreams, a smile laden with and never had. promises, a heart heavy with the goodness of the earth, such 47 was the wealth offered and given me. In many ways, peasant  women  she had broken free in  her  society.  As  prominent person and her successful  from the a  school  fate prescribed for teacher  she was  a  resistance to tradition and  rejection of accepted values could not go unnoticed. To a certain degree, the struggles of both Caries and Beauvoir  46  Caries,  153-155.  Caries,  155.  Caries,  158.  U,  c U)  DD  H Hi  I:-’  -‘  HHi  Hi  CD  S  ‘ci IH  S  I-  H-  U)  H  —  Cl)  H CD  <  0  t-  CD )  0 Hi  o  CD  M F-a-  ‘-ci  S  HI-  o  CD )  ()  C  tI  u  U)  —  Cl)  —] H  Cl)  CD  H  l)  ci)  H CD  C)  C)  C  CD  .‘  CD  H  t  CD  0  CD  Mi  0  H  Cl)  CD  Cr  (Q  0  C)  H-  Cl)  CD  Cr  H  CD  H-  H-  0  H  H-  Ct  CD  C)  CD  CD 0  CD  Cl)  ci)  LQ CD CD  Q H-  CD  Hi  Hi  0  Cr  cc  H-  CD  o  C) CD  H H Cl)  CD ICD  I CD  CD  CD  <  Cr  CD Cl)  Cl)  ‘<  H  H  X  Cl) CD  C)  -. CD  0 H  ci)  CD  W  I-  CD  Cr 0 CQ CD  Cr  ci)  HC) H0  Cl)  Cl)  CD  Cr  1  ci)  l CD Q.  CD  HQ.  CD  C) 0  CD  Cr  CD  Ct  Cr  ci)  CD  l-  CD  <  ci)  Q.  H “< Q  5  Cl) H-  ci)  Cl)  CD  Cr  0  H  Cl)  -  H  H-  CD  Cr H  H  CD  ct  H-  j  CD  H  S  H-  Cr  0  H  C) 0  CD  CD  ci)  ci.’  CD  CD CD  C) Cr  CD  ‘  CD  <  CD  ci)  CD  Ct  Ct  CD  CD  Cl)  Cl)  CD  0  Lfl C  Cl)  0  Cr  Q  Cl) CD  Mi  CD  H H Hi  HCl)  H  ‘<  t 0  ‘—.‘•  Cl)  0  0  Cr  CD  Cr  H  cii  X  Cr  HH  S  Hi  HM Cl)  0  <  CD  H  Cl) CD  H-  CD  -  CD  H  Cl)  CD  (Q  ‘t3 ci) CD CD  Cr Cl)  C)  CD  CD  Cl)  H-  (Q  H  H  Cl)  .  l-  CD  ci) Cr  Hi  CD  Hi  0  CD  i-  C)  CD  Cl)  ci)  CD  Cl)  Cl)  Cl)  CD  Cl) Cr  H-CD  CD  H CD  0 H  CD  CD CD  CD  < CD  CD  H  g  çr  H-  Q-  M C) CD  l-  CD  Hi  0  CD  C)  < H-  HH  Cr  CD  Cl)  CD  Cr CD 0  CD  Cl)  .  Z  Q  HH-  Cr <  H  Cr  CD  H  CD  Cr 0  CD  Cr  ‘rJ CD  CD  Cl)  Z’  CD  Cr  HO H  C)  H-  CD  Cl)-  Cl) HCD Cr CD  CD  Hi  0  <  l-  0  Cr  Cl)  CD  l HCl)  1  Cl)  H  Q CD  Cr  CD Cl)  H-  CD  Cr  Hi 0  CD CD  Cl)  CD  Cr  H-  H  g  Cl) CD Q  H H Cl)  CD  Hi  Cr  I-  CD  C)  CD  H Cl)  CD  CD  0  ci)  Ct  Mi  CD  Cr  ci)  ,  Cl)  h  CD  CD  H  l.Q  Cl)  H  H-  CD  CD  Hi  Cl)  CD  Cl)  H CD CD  C)  CD  <  l-  Cr  CD  C) <  H-  Q  I  Ct HCD Cr  CD  Cr  H  i-  ci)  CD  ‘<  HCD Cr  Cl) 0  0 HCl)  0  -,  Cr  Cl)  ci.’  CD  H  -  CD  H CD  0  CD  H  CD  ‘<  CD  C)  Cl) CD  Q  CD  Q Q  lCl)  0  Cr  ci)  CD  Cr  CD  -  Cr  CD  Cr  Cr  0  CD  ç-t  Hi Cr CD  CD  çt ci’  H-  H HCr  <  CD  Cl)  0  CD Hl-’  Cr  H  Cl) Cr  CD  Cr  Hi  0  CD  C)  H-  H-CD CD CD  0  H  0  0 Z Cr l-  C)  Cr 0  Ct  H-  CD  Cr  Hi  CD  Q H  Cr  Cl)  ci)  .‘ H Cl)  Cl)  H-  Cl)  l-’  c-r  CD  CD H  Cr  5  CD  Cr  CD  CD Hi H  ci)  Cl)  tJ  CD  H-  ci)  CD H  Cr CD  Cr H-  H  H-  CD  Cr  CD  0  H  0  Cr I-  0  CD  N  H  CD  Cl)  0  49 One might expect that the author of The Second Sex would have devoted considerable space in her autobiography to the development of her own sexuality.  In her theoretical work on women, she argued  that the repression of women’s sexuality was an important element of the oppression of women under patriarchy. however,  1950s,  the  subject  the  of  As a woman writing in  own  her  sexuality  is  self-  The society for which she wrote would have certainly  censored.  misunderstood and sensationalized her sexual life; her authority as In this way,  an intellectual woman would have been compromised. memoir  the  itself  is  relationships that were actually sexual. student  Sartre’s  Jacques  Bost  and  her  in  the  is  1950s  platonic  Thus her fondness screaming  emotional breaks with her own former student, 53 seem somewhat odd.  as  presenting  misleading,  matches  for and  Nathalie Sorokine,  The politics of women’s sexuality in France  therefore  reflected  in  these  compromises  in  Beauvoir’s text. Beauvoir is unequivocal about her attitude towards children: she does not particularly like them, she did not want them, and had The value placed  felt no loss at the prospect of not having them.  on childbearing by her Catholic friends bewildered her; thus when Zaza  claimed  that  having  nine  children was  “just  writing books, the teenage Simone was baffled.  as  good”  as  In a society which  trained women to accept their life role as wives and mothers as natural  and necessary,  Beauvoir’s decision not  takes on the significance of political resistance. Moi,  232.  to have children She refused her  50 socialization. on  Caries,  children and before her  adored  other hand,  the  Two factors  marriage even considered having one without a husband.  dissuaded her: first, as an unwed mother she would lose her job and back  forced  be  second,  into  of  situation  a  father;  her  on  dependence  she read a popular novel about an unwed mother and was  dissuaded by the suffering which appeared to be brought upon the child. When she married Jean Caries, she was delighted that she would Yet when the state finally  be able to have children of her own.  stripped away the parental rights of her younger sister’s husband -not for trying to burn down the house with his wife and children, for  but  exposing  himself  public  in  she  -  took  gladly  54 sister’s four children despite the financial strain. had  committed  been  Children  55 husband.) Carles. When  by  hospital  psychiatric  not necessarily one’s own  -  -  her  (Her sister her  abusive  are valued by  She spent her entire pay cheque providing for her wards.  she was  sister’s  a  to  in  reproached by  children  that  she  a  cousin  could  for  have  spending money spent  on  her  on her  own,  she  defended her decision by arguing that her children’s basic material This shift in attitude from children as  56 needs were being met. property important  56  to  children  political  Carles,  152.  Carles,  122.  Carles,  173.  as  people  resistance  with to  the  needs  and  dominant  rights social  was  an  view  of  CD  J  J  CD  J  U,  U,  H  cs)  0  H  h  (_)  (n  HCr  HCr  Ti’  ‘-<  H  CD  C)) Cr  CD  Cr  Q  H-  H Cr H-  CD  Cl)  C))  CD  Cl)  -  Cl)  C?  c-r  Hi  0  CD C)) C)  Cl) CD CD  g  CD  Cr  Q  C.Q  CD  -.  CD  )  pi  Cc)  Cr  HCl)  pj Cl)  CD  CD  Cr  CD  HCl)  Q  (Q  Cr  CD  Cl)  Cl) H  F-  H  CD  CD  p  i  CD  l  CD  HC?  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H-  C)  ‘<  C)) Cl)  -  0 H-  pi  CD  -  Cl)  H  CD  C?  H-  ip  H-  r  H-  •  C?  H-  H,  Q  -<  H H  cn  C)  C? H-  H )  CD  Hç-r  -r  )  <  II  H HC)  X  CD  0  H,  CD  J  C)  -  CD C))  Cl)  ci0  Cl)  0  HC? H-  0  Z  0 H-  -  0 C?  H  CD  C?  CD H-  <  Cl)  H  C)  H CD  CD  -  0  I-  H,  Cl)  CD H H CD  c-r  H-  Cl)  C?  )  C?  C?  Cl) CD  CD  Cl) C?  H-  Q-  0  j  l))  C?  C?  HCl) C?  C) 0  CD  rr  H  0 HCl) HCD  Q  CD  I CD Cl Cl) 0  CD  CD  CD  0  -  -  CD  -.  0  ci-  C? H  CD  C?  H,  0  H  :;-  cr  -  HH CD  •  H HC? HC)  Q  c-r  CD  (C)  CD  (J  H-  C)  CD  IC)  HC)  1 II  0  Cl)  -  C? I CD  Cl)  C)  CD  Cl)  0  CD  CD  l)  r  H-  H,  0  CD  CD  H  .  CD  i-j  0  C?  H,  0  CD  1<  <  CD  CD Cl)  l-’  C?  Cl) C?  HC? HC)  H  ‘  0  H,  CD  C?  H,  Q  Hip  Cl)  H-  0  0  C?  0 H‘1  CD  -  CD  0  0 0  C) H  CD  H-  0  Cl)  CD  Cl)  CD  C?  CD  CD  H  Cl) H  0  HC?  CD  HC)  Cl)  Q  CD CD  CD  C?  C?  H  Mi  CD  0  ?d  ‘  Cl)  CD  H  1  •  0  H-  )  H,  (C)  0  C?  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CD  H  H 0 C)  CD Q  N  H-  P)  0  CD  (l)  CD  0  Ui I—)  53 occupation.  Significantly,  the  only  formal  movement  political  She joined in 1971,  Beauvoir ever joined was the women’s movement.  wait convinced that the promotion of the cause of women could not and furthermore might not be achieved by,  on, Only  in  form  this  she  did  trust  to  come  class revolution. political  formal  engagement. The life narratives of Emilie Carles and Simone de Beauvoir bear witness to many other forms of political events in both their own lives and those around them. been selected for their potential  The examples studied here have strength in demonstrating the  political nature of women’s personal resistance and acceptance of the ideas in their society.  The politics of a society and the ways  in which power is resisted cannot be studied solely through a focus on  the  traditional  political  elites  harnessed to measure the agreement  and  the  formal  (acquiesence)  of “the people.”  In their lives and in their creation of their texts, and Beauvoir  negotiated the boundaries  of  place in twentieth century French society. memoir”  only  serves  narratives of  to  devalue  those who could not  political elite.  the  structures  women’s  both Caries identity and  The myth of “political  politics  or would not  in  the  personal  join the  formal  CD h  1  C) Cl) 0)  Cl)  M  0  CD  —-  CD  a  cc  j1  C))  °  0  cc  CD C) F-  <  H-  C))  CD  H,  ,  0  CD  CD  cc  <  ‘t  —  I-  Cl)  C))  .  ci  -  CD  0)  H  Q  F-iClF-.  0  çi-  (Q  H-  Q.  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The Quai hoped that his prestige, talents and experience  culture.  in  economy  national  for  state  of  under-secretary  as  fluent in German and familiar with German  the  negotiations undertaken in Paris and London in 1931 with the German Chancellor,  to  government  German  would  Heinrich BrQnig, find  debt  the  on. 3 nationalist agitati  and ultimately the right-wing, the  to  solution  thereby alleviating the German economic crisis  repayment problem,  Of  acceptable  an  the  enable him to work with  two narratives  in  question,  De  Staline  a  Hitler by  Coulondre conforms more strictly to the generic specifications of memoir writing. which  he  was  international  a  He writes personal  relations  played no part,  about  Significant  witness. such as  events  to  developments  in  own actions  his  and  the Munich Accords,  in which he  are reported from the distance of an Ambassador  4 only partially informed by telegram by his own government. own  admission,  the  opinions  which  he  gives  of  By his  events  such  are  ative. 5 personal and largely specul Unlike the women studied in chapter two, Coulondre appears to  2  chapter See above, competitive agrégation exams. Berlin  two,  for  an  explanation  Baillou, 416; and André Francois-Poncet (Paris: Flarnrnarion, 1946) 23.  Robert Coulondre Hachette, 1950) 154—155. Coulondre,  8.  De Staline  a  Hitler  of  the  Une Ainbassade  (Paris:  a  Librairie  •  o  U)  H,  HCD  H,  c-i-Il c-i-c  c-i-  HCD I ‘d  ‘0 0  2)  Il  “I  CD CD  Q  -CD  CDCD 2) CD  cc  H  CD  2)  c-i-  CD  CD CD II H Il c-i-  tj CD  c-i-  CD  II CD  CD  i—c-i-CD  H H-  CD Il  2)’  ‘-<  c-i-  CD  0 H,  c-.  Il CD  0  CD 2)  CD  2)  CD  D  CD H<CD  2) c-i-  11 II  H-  c-r Q.CD  H  CD  CD Il  <  c-i-  •  C) CD  ‘TJ Il 2)  I-  H-  2) Il c-i  ci-  CD  H-  () 0  2)  CD  c-i-  c-iCD Il CD CD  H-  0 CD CD  •-‘-)  0  H-  -  0 H,  c-iCD  CD  CD  c-i-  H-  H  2)  0  2) c-i-  CD  c-i-  H  H-  Il  CD  0 Il  ‘  c-i-  CD  CD  H,  z  CD  ci-  H,  Q  0  c-iH-  2)  Hc-i-  2) (Q  Il “<  H-  c-i-  Il CD  •.  2) 1 CD  k<  D  c-i-  c-i  2)  ci-  CD  CD  $1 CD  H-  Q-  t’ 0  CD  ci-  CD  2) CD  CD  c-i-  CD  H  Q. 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CD CD Cr  CD  H-  0  ti I 0  Q-  0  HCD  H-  c-I-  CD C)  Q c  Li  0  CD  )  CD  CD H-  Cr  HCD 0 CD HI  H,  c-s-  CD  Cr  H-  CD  Cr H-  Ih  C)  C)  Cl)  LJ  0  Q  CD  CD H  0  CD iCD  CD  CD Cr  Cr H0  CD  CD  0  CD C) Cr  H,  H  p  Cr  Q  CD  HC)  0  CD C) 0  0  Cr  Cl  CD  -  Cr CD  CD  0  CD  CD  .  CD  i-  Cr  CD  Cr 0  CD  Q-  2  CD  CD  CD  pi  Cl  CD  CD C) Cr H0  Cr  H C)  H  CD  Cr  H,  D HCD Cr 0  CD c-i  CD  H  H-  Q  H  çr  CD  CD CD  pi  CD  c-I  C)  H-  H,  ti CD C) H  g  H  C)  H-  CD H ‘< Cr  CI)  CD  CD  H-  ‘  0  HCr ‘<  Cr  CD  C) 0  Cr  CD  <  CD  Cr  M HCr H  I-h 0 M  CD  H  Cr  CD  Cr  Cr  CI)  Cr  II H€ CD 0 0 CD  CD  CD  CD CD  CD  Cr  H  HCD  Cr  X  çt CD  Lfl  59 informateur, un intermédiare, un assistant, un exécutant, qui n’a jarnais été consulté, quand furent prises les decisions capitales et qui, par consequent, ne plaide pas pour son saint 8 This passage marks the first appearance of the first person pronoun in fifteen pages.  The fourteen pages that follow this declaration  are once again filled with analysis of the situation,  arguing in  effect that the results of the Munich conference were essentially a foregone conclusion and that the western democracies did not have the power or the will to act.  By claiming in the final line of the  passage that he does not need to excuse his actions he underlines the  conclusion that he  advisor  is  without  demanding  is  real  power  and  that  an  guilt  or  constructions  of  relationships  are  from his  audience:  therefore  without  responsibility. Both authorial  Coulondre’s voice  and  and  Francois-Poncet’s  implicitly  of  self/other  indicative of the enormous personal/political power these men held in twentieth-century French society.  Francois-Poncet is largely  above “I” and exists as an entirely independent, authoritative and supposedly objective voice.  For Coulondre, the presentation of the  authorial “I” is uncomplicated: he assumes that who he was and how he came to be in the position he was in requires no explanation.  “I would like to relate now, the François-Poncet, 314. memories, impressions and ref lexions aroused and left in my mind by It is still a burning the Munich Conference (29 September, 1938) is of the sort testimony my that think not do However, I subject. of a man testimony the is it any In case, it further. to poison an information, of source a but was in this affair, who, never was who man a executor; intermediary, an assistant, an consulted when the main decisions were made and who, consequently, (my translation) is not pleading for his soul.” 8  .  60 him He opens the narrative with the story of his mother bringing the  telegram announcing his posting to Moscow while he was He claims that he was “in no way prepared for  hunting! functions”  and that he knew  “no more about  [his] new Soviet  the Union of  9 Socialist Republics, the USSR, than the man on the street.” he  may  Embassy,  not as  have a  had  much  diplomat  trained  preparation  specific  he was  far  on  out  While Moscow  the  from unprepared and  certainly far better equipped than the man on the street to access and assimilate any  Such false levelling  information available.  would have hardly been deceptive for his French audience: ?inbassador,  he  stereotype:  well  existed  already  educated,  in  extremely  white, male and upper middle class.  minds  their  cultured,  as an  a  cultural  highly  trained,  as  Undoubtably, he was a far more  complex individual than this, and the information about who is was and where he came from that is not exposed would surely affect how we read his testimony. More pernicious still  is the very real possibility that in  Coulondre’s mind, who he was in the world was of no importance; as a  diplomat  he  would  rise  above  the  constraints  perspective and represent the interests of France. much when he tells the Soviet Foreign Minister,  of  his  own  He intimates as  Litvinov,  that he  is above ideological prejudices and holds no firm opinion of the Soviet Union either way; he was merely interested in a practical alliance which would benefit both nations. Je suis venu ici, dis-je en substance Coulondre,  12.  (my translation).  a  Litvinov, sans aucune  n  II  -  CDH-(-t’  o  = •  .  H-H  çtçio  H  —  l)  (D  0 CD H-Cr  ) <cttY H  QctO çt  CDhIIH )U) <CDCD(jCl  U) U•  )CD  CDçtl))  CD CDCD(fl’ H çt .CD0r0 CDHhICD.< HH ) =ç P0 CD U) HC — dU) 0) 0CD< ‘<hI0 0. ct0 (Cl ctctCDH)  CCJ) H HCD(Cl..I<CDW (DhIH P) HCC lC çr D U)HQ -rc-rhI  HM’0 OCD 0 C Q. 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CD  I-I  0  (Q  H H-  •  Z l)) N  I  ti  Ml  Cl)  a  0  0  Ml  CD  H  W 0  CD Cl  C1  0  <  0  Cf  CD  Cl  CD  CD  H  CD  H-  Mi  CD  C)  rr  Ml  0  CD  Ml  Cl)  Cl  Cl H0  CD  H H-  CD  i-c  Z 0  <  Cl  Ml 0  CD  Cl)  Cl) H  H 0  Q  H  -r  H H  l)) 0  CD  c-r  Cl  CD  Ct  0  ‘ti  CD Q  CD  ti  Cl)  CD  H Cl)  C)  Cl)  ti  Cr  (Q  0  I-’l  CD H-  Cl  w  0  r  CD  CD  Cr  H-  H-  H  -  CD H-  Cl  H-  Cl)  Cl) rr  c-r  H  0  CD  H H  C)  Cl  Cl)  çf  CD  I-  H-HCD  CD  H-  Cl)  0  C) CD  Cl)  ‘l  H  CD CD  0  HCl)  CD  CD Cl) CD  Cl 0  H  C) 0  -  H CD  Cl) H  Cl)  0  Cl  C)  Ml CD  CD Ml  H  Q’ tJ  63 famille attablée prenant du poids  a  ’ 1 s’en nourrir.  Coulondre succeeds in making the goals of the Popular Front look The comparison with the painting of  absurd.  particularly  ingenious.  the  By  time  Picasso is was  Coulondre  in fact writing,  Picasso’s work was being touted by intellectuals as brilliant and meaningful.  Those who did not appreciate it were/are disparaged as They are vindicated in this homage  lacking vision and imagination. realism.  to  Socialist  theory,  it  is  suggested,  would have the  effect of putting together elements that realistically cannot be brought together and twisting bodies and material ways.  in impossible  The common accusation against left wing movements, in fact,  is that the theories are idealist.  Coulondre’s metaphor actually  would work against all theory in as much as all theory is abstract, at least to a certain degree. for  “abstract,”  If the word “ideal” is substituted  the meaning is entirely different.  An idealist  painting has a much broader appeal and the family nourished on an “ideal” soup would do quite well. The  reference to  the housewife is  also doubly loaded.  It  constructs the French nation as in need of practical care for the provision of its basic needs.  While the language of responsibility  “For my part, each time that I have the Coulondre, 14. honour to be received by him, at the end of only a short time I only wish to say, “Yes... yes... yes...” Only, -the odious and only past the doorway the charm dissipates in an inevitable only! Ah! if one could put into often brutal contact with reality. fashion abstract politics like Picasso has done for painting, it But France is a large house of which the would be otherwise. President of the Counsel [the Premier] is the housekeeper and I cannot well see a mistress of a home serving an “abstract” soup, and I really cannot well see a family at their table gaining weight by eating it.” (my translation) 11  -  64 is  Furthermore,  dependence.  of  in  exists  she  elected;  not  is  mother  one  is  the message  employed,  a  defined  that  role  a is  socially naturalized and deviance from that role is construed as a His metaphor relies on a general agreement  prelude to disaster.  (abstractly) rather than simply following  that a mother who thinks  traditional practice will fail in her duties and starve her family.  François-Poncet’s memoirs.  in  figures  insignificant  are  Women  Coulondre’s  both  and  Coulondre mentions his mother in his  introductory paragraph in order to note her religious terror at the prospect of his assignment to the Soviet Union.  The image is one  son leaving home to protect his mother  (and womenfolk in  of the  of  not  comprehend  really  and  He mentions his wife when he talks about the  irrationally fears. difficulty  can  she  evil  an  from  general)  language  getting  lessons  for both  of  them during  François-Poncet only mentions his wife in  their stay in Moscow.  order to underline the complete audacity of the German media:  to  stir up anti-French sentiment, they were even vilifying the wife of an  In  ambassador.  François-Poncet that  he  will  Significantly, withdrawal.  valiant  a  informs  quit  his  display  the German post  if  of  personal  Foreign Affairs  secretary of  the  attacks  integrity,  are  not  2 stopped.’  this is the only issue over which he threatens his  Powerless to make anyone heed his warnings of the Nazi  threat or to prevent any of the Nazi atrocities he abhors, still  protect  his  wife.  relationship as protector of 12  François-Poncet,  30.  In  a  metaphoric  French interests  parallel  he can to  his  in Germany in his  65 able  is  he  life,  public  to  fulfill  as  role  his  chivalrous  the  protector of his wife in his private life. Other than such brief appearances as accessories for the male On the one  ego, women are absent from these “political” memoirs.  hand this can be seen as a reflection of the political situation in mid-twentieth century France, where formal politics existed as a  of  classification  traditional  the  with  problem  fundamental  it underlines the  On the other,  domain virtually closed to women.  “political” memoir; since the exclusion of half the population from participation in the formal political process is itself a political question,  the definition of “political” memoir then paradoxically  functions to exclude such aspects of politics. The  memoirs  of  Robert  Coulondre  and André  François-Poncet  represent a common approach to the traditional “political” memoir. They  reflect  politics silently  advocate  and social  change.  assimilated  bourgeoisie politics  and  and  define  and diplomacy.  The the  with the It  liberal  traditional  a  “interests interests  limits is  this  of  the  aspect  the  French in  possible of  to are  the nation”  of  of  approach  male  French  the politics  of  personal narratives that a feminist approach to personal narratives The veracity of the author’s account of his particular  uncovers. actions politics.  is  no  longer  of  fundamental  importance  to  a  study  It is in their representations of their own role,  of and  their relationships to others that men of power reveal the politics of their society.  66 Chapter Four: Conclusions  goal Feminism is, by definition, a revolutionary ideology: its is  A considerable  to bring an end to the oppression of women.  g the amount of feminist literature has been written demonstratin rooted  deep  and  complex  twentieth-century society. maintained,  however,  of  functioning  in  oppression  this  To reveal the mechanisms by which it is Feminist theory,  is insufficient.  research  and activism must work consistently to undermine the foundations upon which such oppression rests. While postmodern theory has been closely concerned with the relationship between power and knowledge production,  this thesis  has attempted to move beyond postmodernism to a self-consciously feminist approach. thinkers  for  the  Theory can be, and is, borrowed from postmodern pursuit  feminist  of  goals.  In  this  in  way,  chapter one, the dichotomy of personal and political upon which the category of “political memoir” is based has been deconstructed to reveal both that the border between the two is profoundly political in its  impact and implications and that neither category can be  understood  independently of  the  other.  The  literary  canon  is  called into question for its traditional reliance on male norms in the definition, classification, and evaluation of literary genres. The long standing distinction between memoir and autobiography is criticized for the forced compartmentalization of the public and private which argued  women,  it in  implies.  As  particular,  feminist have  literary theorists  have  transgressed  this  regularly  67 Men  generic boundary in the crafting of their personal narratives.  too must negotiate this distinction and to a large degree their successful  separation  their  of  public  their  from  life  private  reflects their socialization to the power position of masculinity in a patiarctha1 society.  Chapter two demonstrates the political nature of women’s socalled personal Simone  Beauvoir,  de  professor,  and  By  lives.  middle-class  a  Emilie  examining  Caries,  a  the  life  writer, and  peasant  both  of  stories  philosopher  and  teacher,  the  a  political implications of personal negotiations with social roles In other words,  and socio-political structures are demonstrated.  the very notion of a personal realm is a political construct. Chapter three complements and reinforces the points made in chapter  two  demonstrating  by  ways  the  personal  a  which  in  negotiation of gender and class socialization is implied in texts focused on providing personal politics.” claimed  in  fundamental  By  the  examining  these  texts,  structuring  we of  in  testimony of involvement power return  social  assumed again  politics  and to  a  along  the  authority  study the  “high  of lines  the of  gender.  This thesis does not aim to open the category of  “political  memoir” up to a more diverse group than have traditionally found a place there.  Any attempt to draw a boundary separating personal  narratives into classes of “non-political” and “political” assumes that the author has the right to define the experiences of others. Since the personal is political, all personal narratives testify to  0  c-i  CD  c-i-  0  Cl)  CD  0 Cl) F-  CD  c-i-  0  H=  <  i-  c-i-  hi,  =  H-  d  a  c-i  H0  CD  CD  Cl)  i-j 02  (1  Cl)  0  0  c-i-  0 02  Cl)  0  F-  0 H,  <  0  CQ  Cl)  Cl)  02  0  H-  H-Cl)  02  CD  c-i-  H  -Q  0  CD  CD  c-i-  M  0  CD H  lo  lQ  (12  CD CD  H  F—i  Cl)  02  H-  0  (1)  Cl)  H-  02  CD  rt  CD  Q H-  02 (1  rt  Cl)  rr  Cl)  0  CD  H-  CD  •  0 HI-I  (1)  Cl)  1—i  H-  ci  H(12  c-i-  H-  0  02  CD  C-I-  i)  Q  ‘-<  I-  c-i-  CD  0  CD  (12  CD  c-i-  0  02  HCD  h’ c-i-  ci  Cl)  -  CD  0  )  CD  CD  Cl  <  CD  H-  c-i  0 &)  0  CD  CD 02  Cl)  Cl)  hi  0  CD  ç1  ci  Cl)  Cl)  CD  CD  0  (1)  0 H-  CD  Cl)  c-i-  CD  )  CD  -.  i--i  CD  0 1  (1)-  0  fr f1  CD  LI (Q  CD  c-i-  Cl)  H  Cl)  h  H  H,  CD  H-  c-i-  ci  c-i-  0 H,  02  I  0  hi  Cl) (12 H-  CD CD  H  ci  0  H,  CD  -  CD 02  i  CD  02  (12  CD  H-  ci  0  0  -‘•  CD  CD  (  F-  H0  Hc-i-  çi  c-i-  l  (12 (12 H-  CD  (Q  02  Cl)  c-I-  0 CD  CD H  ‘<  0 HI-’l  CD  Cl)  0  H-•  FH-  0  Cl)  0  0  Cl)  02  Cl)  0  Cl)  0 hi  <  =  F-  H0  Cl  Cl) ci  HCD0  0 I—a H-  H  -  hi  0  CD  -  02 CD  CD  H-  02  CD  0 CD  0  H-  çr  CD  I-  0 02 H-  p  ‘  c-i-  M  Q  H-  F  o  H Ci)  I-  0  02  CD  II  CD  ti  )  Cl)  H  I-  H-  0  CD  F-  H-  0  c-i-  0  hi  CD hl  c-ic-i  Cl)  ‘0  CD  H  CD  CD  CD  c-i-  H,  0  HCD  c-i-  Cl)  c-i-  Cl)  0  H02  02  h  0  02  d CD Cl)  <  c-i  0  CD  c-i-  0  02  02 Cl) c-i-  Cl) c-i-  H-  CD  Cl) F-  Hc-i-  0  H-  H,  Cl)  0  •  H• ii  0  CD  Cl)  H-  CD  0  CD  CD  0  CD  c-i-  H-  ci  CD  i-  (D 1  i0  H  P  H,  0  0)  id CD  c-i  02 CD  CD  c-i-  0  CD  CD  h  c-i  ‘  0  Cl)  CD  c-i-  i—a  H0  Cl)  I  0  HCl)  H  rI-  1C1  H1  0  —r  H H-  0  H 1  io  Cl  F-  Cl)  c-i-  H-  0  CD  ‘  Cl  CD (12 CD  02  (12  Cl)  0  HCD  Cl)  CD  H-  02  0 0  =  02  H-  CD  H  Cl)  l-  H-  0  )  H0  0  CD  0  -  Cl)  0  HCD  ci  Cl)  (12  co  i.  0  H-  (-I-  < 0  -  <  ci  Cl)  CD  0  Cl)  M  CD  H,  0  )  CD  H-  0  CD  c-i-  0  Cl)  <  H-  D  0  -  H-  CD  f-  Cl)  c-i-  H0  0  H  Cl)  H0  H,  Cl) 02 H-  0  H,  I—  Cl) CD  -  0  c-i-  H-  F-  0  (12 0 0 H0  c-l  0  l  Cl)  g  02  0  ‘  0  H-  c-i-  CD  0 F-  c-i-  H  02  CD  C-I-  Cl)  CD  H c-i-  H0  0  H 02  02  i  (  H-  H,  02  0  Cl) k<  i-  ‘  Cl) Fhh  0  Cl)  CD  H,  0  CD Cl)  Ic-i-  Cl)  0  H-  c-i-  I-I  CD  c-i  0  H  Cl)  <  CD  02  0 H,  0 CD  CD  CD  CD  0  c-i-  CD  p  c-i-  -  0 CD  CD  Cl) Cl)  CD ci  CD  hi,  H,  0  Cl)  CD  <  H-  h fr  Cl)  r  ci Cl)  CD Q.  Cl)  c-i-  CD 02 Cl) CD  H Cl)  H 0 Cl)  c-i  H-  0  ti=  CD  Cl)  CD  c-i  ci  CD  Cl)  Cl)  (12  H 0  H-  0  CC)  02  69 Cromwell suggests  category.’  in question exercised some What  diplomacy.  is  (but fails to prove)  that the women  influence over the conduct of is  here  significant  the  that  formal  argument  inclusion maintains the traditional definition of politics. is also fundamental to Mostow’s argument. the goal to reclassify nikki as memoirs.  “...  “political”  that  rather then literary  I will argue that these memoirs are political,  these works figures,  political  were  specifically  not  but also in the  commissioned by major  political  specifically  for  This  His essay is based on  only in the sense that all writing is political, sense  for  2 reasons.”  The  implication is that the prestige and value of these works will be raised by the recognition of their “political” If the argument of this thesis were that was a myth because it,  content. “political memoir”  excluded women then these  by definition,  essays would be sufficient proof of the fallacious nature of my In fact, they do not in any way contradict the evidence  argument.  provided or the arguments made. their  status  as  observers  are  valued  as  observers  because  of  persons  they  definition agency.  These women are only granted entry  of  “political”  which  is  of  “high  rather  used  than  masks  As  politics.” actors.  their  The  political  The classification of these memoirs as “political,” then,  still functions to maintain a limited view of politics and does not Valerie Cromwell, “‘Married to Affairs of State’: Memoirs of the Wives and Daughters of British Diplomats” in George Egerton “Political Memoir: Essays on the Politics of Memory,” Ts., ed. 207-234; and Joshua Mostow, “Japanese Nikki as Political Memoirs” in Egerton ed., 106-120. 1  2  Mostow,  107.  (italics in original)  70 the  reveal draw attention to the ways in which these narratives  gender divisions of their society and the ways in which these texts negotiate these political aspects of their experience. The two other types of “political memoir” by women which could be offered as counter evidence would be the memoirs of women who succeeded in traditional politics, such as Margaret Thatcher, or of those who were involved in “informal” political movement (that is, rather than for the  organized around a specific political goal, attainment  of  formal  political  power)  the  as  such  who  women  organized and led the protests to save the forests of Clayoquot Sound here in British Columbia.  In both instances, yet again,  a  traditional definition of politics would function as the standard of measure allowing their inclusion and other aspects of the texts The feminist analysis proposed by this  would take second billing.  thesis would remain pertinent and useful since even if such women were to explicitly deny the relevance of gender, their texts would contain information about how gender shaped their experience or how they managed to defy prescribed gender roles in some instances. Essentially revolutionaries. Nationalist  the  Milton  voices:  Israel  an  in  Autobiography  to  applies  argument  same  and  article  the  “Indian  of  Return”  examines numerous memoirs including those of Mahatma Ghandi. these  writings  political narratives  were  purposes, as  used to  effectively  distinguish  “political,”  political leadership class.  still  to  them  serve from  reinforces  In other words,  of  entitled  Process  the  memoirs  the  While  revolutionary other  personal  concept  of  a  it is the label, and  Q  0  H,  0  (p  H  H-  C-I  CD  CD  C-I  (p  CD Q.  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CDCDciU) gCDCD U)Hi)ct c i-hWU) U)U)c-i0 U)H IQU)CDCDci NU)(o QC)P HHU U)C )0C Dc-i D 0 CD Mi 0 ci 1 i— CDci0 QU)H 0 QH,U)c-iU) H-Q c-i Oct ciU)Hc-i-.UQ HMiCDH ) H.CDCDOQ)H U )c iXH-0 i-H ciH.I—OH, CDC D .H)° =ctHictciCD ,CD QCDH0CDU)i’ -iciMiCDIciU)CDCD  -  =  H ci 0  ci  ci)  0 cic-i0  C—)  =  k<  U)  CD  H  ci  ci 0  Mi  CD  ci) U) U) ci)  H  Hc-i-  C)  1<  0 0  CD  Cl-  Mi  ci)  HU)  c-i  H  CD  ci0  CD  H  H  ci  H  ci  CD  ci ci  77  ambivalence  That  was  source  the  the  of  this  in  argument  thesis.  I also went  I completed my course work in the spring of 1992.  on strike as a teaching assistant in solidarity with the university Frustrated  support staff in the month prior to the exam period. and  disillusioned, here  collective  in  I  spent  I  Vancouver.  the  a  joined next  feminist  eight  months  I also tried to begin work on  working as a “political activist.”  By this point, however, both training and experience in  my thesis. both  and  campus  the  left  these  told  activities  that  me  this  was  not  possible.  Historian and political activist seemed incompatible.  My intention had been to look at a series of political memoirs produced by those who had held power in the years that led to the defeat of France in 1940.  I wanted to look at the way they told  the story in a postwar period of intense political restructuring. How  did  they  And  readership? struck me  use  again  their  it’s as  an  memoirs  funny,  as  I  to  warn  and  rewrote that  interesting project.  educate  their  description,  And yet  it  there was  something wrong and it took me until June of 1993 to actually say, “I do not agree with the way ‘political’ has been defined for the discussion  of  ‘political  memoir.’”  The  political  actions all around me did not fit the definition. opened.  events  and  The flood gates  “Political” was exclusionary of my political experience  78 and made suspect the ideology with which I worked but not that of Angry,  my masters.  fascinated and resolved,  I returned.  I sat down and  After a bit of reading and a bit of thought. wrote the thesis you have read.  And submitting it to you is a form  But it does not mean this is all I think there is to  of closure.  say on the subjects of ‘the political,  ‘  of ‘memoirs,  relationship to the way we define and study ‘history.’  ‘  or of their Nor does it  mean that this could form the core of a reworking and extension to a larger critique. even were  I  to  sit  Some of the ideas could be carried forward but down  tomorrow to write  seventy-five page  a  thesis entitled “The Myth of Political Memoir: A Feminist Critique” it would be a very different piece.  I like the first chapter. trace  the  evolution of  feminist  between power and knowledge. have formed the core of  I would read more and try to better thought  about  the  relationship  I would go to the popular texts which  feminist activist theorizing and try to  draw out the theoretical arguments which have been ignored because they are not academically sanctioned or convoluted. at  feminist  magazines  and  propaganda  and  make  I would look explicit  the  originality of feminist ideas about socialization as the power to define.  But this would be a  (worthwhile) project onto itself.  I think comparative studies are important and I like the idea of  drawing  together  Beauvoir,  Carles,  François-Poncet  and  79 Coulondre.  The selection however, was not entirely consonant with  my objectives and reflects the degree to which I remained tied to my original project.  If I had worked with a greater diversity of texts and  broader. included  The comparative basis could have been much  working  class  men  and  women,  French  colonialists  and  peoples who had been colonized by the French for instance, I could have begun to draw out more information from those texts and the texts I did study about the socialization and negotiation of ideas about class and race and strengthened my observations about gender. A larger sample base could have also led to interesting suggestions about the degree to which shared language does not necessarily mean shared,  unifying discourse because of different geographical and  social place. suggestive  But then again,  (not conclusive)  have studied,  have,  I hope,  even these studies would have been  of socialized politics.  The texts I  allowed me to highlight and perhaps  begin to rupture some of the fissures in the edifice of political history.  And this would be a  possibilities.  closure which would open up new  


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